Here's my Field Report section. Full report is in the Tests folder at http://tinyurl.com/3h9ldjy
September 3, 2011
The Sea to Summit event Dry Sack has accompanied me on two backpacking trips: a five-day service trip in the Mid Creek drainage of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area in northwest Montana in late June, and a four-day llama-supported hike in the Upper Gallatin River Valley in the Montana section of Yellowstone National Park in late August.
On the service trip we had warm working weather daytime highs about 85 F (29 C) and bright sunlight, with no precipitation. On the eleven-mile (18 km) hike to our campsite I carried the stuffed Dry Sack in my pack. Its contents were my Nunatak Arc Ghost sleeping quilt, MontBell EX Light down jacket, and three extra pairs of socks. (The first two items are separately reviewed on this site, so you may check dimensions.) This load did not fill the Dry Sack to capacity; after making use of the stuffing feature I had a bag about 14 inches (35 cm) long.
In Yellowstone I brought a different quilt and sweater my oversized Nunatak Back Country Blanket and Skaha down sweater. (Again, you may check my separate reviews for these products' dimensions.) After adding a watch cap the Dry Sack was almost full. From the photo at left, you can see that when Sea to Summit Dry Sack and Tentstuffed to capacity this size Dry Sack is slightly shorter but wider than a packed-up solo tent. We met with typical late summer Montana weather highs about 90 F (32 C), down to 40 F (5 C) at night, and mostly sunny with a brief thunderstorm every afternoon. The Dry Sack went to and from our camp in a pannier on a llama.
Capacity is just right. Not only does the Dry Sack provide waterproof protection for the two down items I regularly camp with, even when full (as in Yellowstone) it fits across the bottom of my regular weekend pack and the larger (85 L/5200 ci) pack I use for my service trips. I'm used to packing my sleeping bag at the pack's bottom, a vestige of my expedition days when my pack had a separate sleeping bag compartment at the bottom, and general good sense it's nice to have a firm but not rock-solid or sharp-cornered item pressing against the small of my back.
The Dry Sack is easy to use. It works in the same manner as any other compression sack, with the top placed over the dry bag closure and then cinched down with the straps that are threaded through buckles. So far I've had no sticky or loose straps and (rather unusual for me) no strap becoming twisted inside the buckle and not allowing full compression.
What about waterproofing? I'm sorry to say that I haven't been able to test this signature feature, as I've met with no rain on my hikes, and once in camp the Dry Sack stayed inside my tent. La Niña-generated rains swamped the Northern Rockies with one of the heaviest snowpacks and wettest springs ever recorded. On the Bob Marshall hike the South Fork of the Flathead in June was the highest I've ever seen it, and even in late July none of the rivers near Bozeman, Montana, which I visited for two weeks, was safe for packrafting. The Gallatin River in Yellowstone near our campsite is little more than a slow-moving creek meandering through meadows, not big enough for watercraft. I'm hoping the autumn will bring some better river conditions.
The Dry Sack has held up well and looks almost as good as new, though it picked up one smudge on the Yellowstone trip. But then it's either been inside a dry pack or a dry tent almost all the time. The one exception was on its way out of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. I had to leave the service trip a few days early to attend a wedding, and the Forest Service volunteered to pack my sleeping bag out for me. Unfortunately the horse on whose back the Dry Sack was stowed met with an accident, and the contents of its panniers were strewn across a hillside for several days until the Forest Service kindly retrieved it. So maybe my Dry Sack felt the rain after all.
The Dry Sack, like many stuff sacks, often serves as my backcountry pillow. I'll fill it with clothing, tighten things up, and place it at the head of my sleeping bag.
It works as it should.
A good size for me fits my pack and my sleeping bag and down sweater fit inside.
Easy and intuitive to use.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Haven't found anything yet.
My Field Report ends here. I hope you'll check back in mid-November for my Long Term Report. Thanks to Sea to Summit and BackpackGearTest.org for this testing opportunity.